Social CRM is no Place for a “Show Me” mindset

Talking to the big brains at CRM Evolution in New York this week was at once refreshing and frustrating. It’s refreshing that people are thinking so hard about what customer relationship management could evolve into, how deeply it can spread into an organization, and how many business people will nod their heads when they hear these things.

It’s frustrating, then, when those same business leaders then wait for the other shoe to drop. They go into what I call “Missouri mode” – “show me,” they say.

The problem here is that the other shoe in this case is on the feet of these businesses. They can either take the ideas they’re hearing and start to run with them, or they can wait until someone writes the one-size-fits-all handbook for the future of CRM within their business. Which is not going to happen.

But I keep saying this – you are the one who has to determine what the best practices are for your business and your customers, since those two intersecting groups are comprised of people with unique desires, behaviors and attitudes. Expecting a speaker at a show or the author of a book to drop a turnkey solution attuned precisely to your customers and your business conditions into your lap is complete folly. And, meanwhile, your competitor may be trying new things and figuring out his own “best practices” for his customer base. Where will that leave you?

I while ago, I wrote a piece about the fallacy of waiting for best practices to emerge for social CRM – in fact, this was last November, and as far as I can tell those best practices have yet to materialize. The story also calls out businesses for being faint-hearted about changing their approach to customers. Nothing has changed in eight months, even though, as Denis Pombriant said at the show, the cost of failure at social CRM is very small right now.

So here’s my advice: just as when you first implemented CRM, look for something your business could be doing better, then think of a way that you can do it through CRM or even social CRM, then try it. Don’t go big at first – use small victories to build momentum for more victories. If you don’t get the small victory then all you have to worry about is a small failure. But you can learn from small failures of commission; failing to do anything is a failure that teaches you nothing.

Finally, sit back and say “Show me.” If someone does indeed show you, it will mean that you’ve already fallen far behind in the race to know and serve your customers better. You should know your customers better than anyone else; now is the time to show them that you’re serious about the relationships you’re building,